‘Kids Rock Cancer’ Taps Healing Power of Music


Maryville University’s Music Therapy Program has begun a new initiative that helps children cope with their cancer diagnoses by tapping into the healing power of music. The innovative program, Kids Rock Cancer, works in concert with modern studio technology and each child’s own capacity for songwriting.

“Music moves the human spirit in many rewarding, inspiring ways,” said Mark Lombardi, PhD, president of Maryville University. “Our new Kids Rock Cancer program gives young people the freedom to be creative, to express their feelings and to share their experience in a language we can all appreciate.”

Kids Rock Cancer is based on successful models in other U.S. cities and works in tandem with pediatric cancer centers in the St. Louis region. Maryville recently launched the program during a gathering at the home of generous donors Steven and Jennifer Straub of the Village of Westwood, Mo.

Al Wiman, vice president for Public Understanding of Science at Saint Louis Science Center and former medical and science broadcast journalist, is advancing the effort to build a coalition of Kids Rock Cancer supporters.

“We’re grateful for the ardent support of the Straubs, Al Wiman and others as we move forward with this remarkable and gratifying new project,” said Tom Eschen, vice president of institutional advancement for Maryville. “The young people who participate in Kids Rock Cancer will certainly benefit from the involvement of such key leadership.”

Under the direction of Tracie Heuring, a certified music therapist who travels with a state-of-the-art portable recording studio, children participating in the Kids Rock Cancer program are encouraged to write lyrics and a melody, and then record their personal song in their own voice on a CD to take home and keep. Engaging in this creative process provides young people with a vehicle for self-expression, a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment, a distraction from emotional and physical pain and a sense of joy and optimism.

“We’ve been privileged to visit successful programs similar to Kids Rock Cancer, including the Purple Songs Can Fly project at Texas Children’s Cancer Center in Houston,” Eschen said. “We’ve got great hope and greater expectations that Maryville’s new program will provide some bright moments in the lives of young people as they focus on healing and recovery.”

For more information about Maryville University’s Kids Rock Cancer program, contact Kristie Skor, project director, at 314.504.3767.

Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a four-year, private university located in west St. Louis County. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Masters-Midwest category, Maryville University students may choose from 50 academic programs, including degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. Among recent graduates, 82 percent are employed or attending graduate school. More than 15,000 Maryville alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.